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A Review of Martina's New Book "Shape Your Self"

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Martina’s new book "Shape Your Self" makes a great addition to any library, and if you are a Martina fan, this book is a must-read.

First of all, this is a book for everyone, not just older women. There is enough information to keep anyone interested – from the benefits of organic food to exercise routines and delicious recipes. You also don’t have to be a tennis player or fitness fanatic to get something out of it – as long as you have a genuine interest in leading a healthier lifestyle, then this is a book for you.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is called "Steps to Shape your Self" and covers Martina’s six diet and fitness steps. The second part, entitled "The Shape Your Self Nutrition and Exercise Plans," is my favorite part of the book. It features a 28-day meal plan with simple and nutritious recipes and a 4-week exercise plan at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

The best part about the book is the amount of information that Martina shares with us. For some of you, most of this might be nothing new. But for those of us who have never thought too much about the subject, there is a wealth of information to be found. All throughout the book, you can find simple charts that help to summarize key points. And after each point, there is a follow-up section called "Following Through." Here, Martina gives you ideas and examples to put into practice the topic she has just discussed.

All throughout the book, you can find personal stories shared by Martina, interspersed with the health and fitness information. In this sense, it is not unlike Martina’s previous tennis instruction book "Tennis My Way" which also included many similar anecdotes. This is an effective way of keeping things interesting and helps drive her point home by example. There are many stories that might already be familiar to fans of Martina but there is also a lot of new material as well. The tone of the book is also very comforting. You really get the feeling that Martina is talking with you in her own words and none of it sounds preachy or condescending at all.

Martina devotes an entire chapter of the book to going organic. This is also one of her six diet and fitness steps – a chapter is devoted to each step in the book. I found this section very interesting and informative. Included in this chapter is a table on sources of organic foods where Martina doesn’t just name generic items, she also gives you brand names of organic food products – something that will certainly come in handy should you be trying to find these items in a health food store.

Many of you who have already read the book have mentioned the recipes. Martina shares over forty recipes of various juices, appetizers, entrées etc. covering a 28-day meal plan. In addition to this, she also goes over the various categories of foods along with suggested servings, recommended meals and nutrition information. Again, I found the table describing standard serving sizes and everyday object equivalents to be very helpful. For example, one medium baked potato would be the size of a computer mouse or a medium piece of fruit would be a tennis ball. Things like that.

The exercise section is also great. Firstly, every core exercise described is accompanied by photos of Martina or her trainer, Lisa Austin, performing the exercise. Martina and Lisa use a variety of equipment with the exercises but if you don’t have them, Martina has provided a list of substitutes that can be used instead. Every exercise might not necessarily work for you but I’m sure there is something for everybody. Martina also provides corrective exercises for improving your posture and various foam roller stretches to do after your workouts. And as mentioned before, there are 4-week suggested exercise plans for all levels to help you get started on incorporating some of the exercises into your daily workout routine.

The final chapter is entitled "My Parting Shot" and it is a heartfelt epilogue where Martina talks about her future plans and also offers encouragement to those wanting to make those necessary changes to achieve "the best shape of your life". I thought it was the perfect conclusion so let me close by quoting Martina:

"As you strive to change, caring for yourself, doing for others, and becoming better than you are right now, know that you will have good days and bad days. Nothing in life is ever a straight climb to the mountaintop. There are backsliding, slipping on rocks, and days when you feel that you can’t take another step. The pain and frustration of the bad days will pass. Life goes on, and the sun comes up in the morning. What is important is that you keep getting up, keep going in the direction of your dreams and goals, and keep trying to elevate yourself, no matter what the obstacle. You will get there as long as you let go of the need to be perfect and strive for excellence in every choice you make."

Thanks, Martina, for a wonderful book!

P.S. You can read the entire first chapter of the book on the website of the book's publisher, Rodale Press.

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